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Damage Control: Harvey Weinstein Adviser in Line To Become White House Chief of Staff

Post-midterm shakeup likely as Biden's presidency flounders

• May 31, 2022 4:00 pm

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Anita Dunn, the senior Biden aide best known for providing "damage control" advice to disgraced Hollywood rapist Harvey Weinstein, is in line to take over as White House chief of staff after the midterm elections, NBC News reports.

Dunn is widely considered to be a "potential successor" to Ron Klain, the current White House chief of staff who several people close to Biden told NBC News was planning to "depart at some point after the midterms." A longtime public relations guru whose firm, SKDK, has represented an array of corporate clients seeking relief from the anti-business policies Democrats routinely enact when they hold power, Dunn played a leading role in Biden's presidential campaign and served several months as White House communications adviser.

Earlier this year, Dunn secretly rejoined the White House as a "special government employee" to help Biden prepare for his State of the Union address and overhaul the administration's bumbling response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The move raised concern among ethics experts, who noted that the temporary nature of the assignment exempted Dunn from most White House ethics requirements. For example, she did not have to file a public financial disclosure that would have revealed information about her SKDK clients and how much they were paying for her strategic advice.

"This is a person who is appointed in and out of alternating roles, between being a public official with significant influence over administration policy and a private adviser, creating the appearance of being an influence peddler," Walter Shaub, former director of the Office of Government Ethics, told the Washington Post in March.

At the time Dunn was one of at least nine former SKDK employees working in the Biden administration. Now she is one of at least nine of the firm's existing employees who previously served in the federal government. During the 2020 campaign, Biden promised to restore decency to the White House and put an end to the self-dealing and lobbyist influence that, in his view, ran rampant during the Donald Trump administration.

If Dunn ultimately does end up replacing Klain as White House chief of staff, the ethics experts will continue to express concern, but the administration is unlikely to care. NBC News writes that Biden views his former adviser as a "confidant whom he often turns to when his fortunes look bleak." And his fortunes certainly look bleak. Another person mentioned as a possible successor to Klain was Steve Ricchetti. The longtime Biden adviser is the brother of Jeff Ricchetti, an influential lobbyist whose firm, Ricchetti Inc., has experienced an influx of business since Biden took office. Imagine that!

Dunn's reputation as the Democratic Party's foremost crisis communications expert is presumably what prompted Weinstein to contact her for "damage control advice" in 2017 as the New York Times was preparing to publish a story exposing his history of sexual misconduct. According to a statement released by her firm, Dunn had been "asked to speak with [Weinstein] by a friend," and was not paid for her advice. She was presumably familiar with Weinstein, who had donated nearly $600,000 to Democratic candidates and committees since the early 2000s.

In addition to advising the Hollywood rapist, Dunn is best known for expressing admiration for the political philosophy of Mao Zedong, the founder of Chinese communism whose brutal regime was responsible for the deaths of at least 65 million people.